Mixed season for SFU men’s soccer ends on a high note

Adam Jones (#6) was named GNAC Freshman of the Year.

Though SFU men’s soccer team was able to finish off on top with a win on seniors night, they unfortunately did not do enough to qualify for the GNAC championships. After a season of mixed results, SFU will be hoping to build in the offseason and make it back to the big dance in 2016.

Leading that rebuild will be SFU Head Coach Clint Schneider. This was his first season as head coach of the program, but he’s already been involved with the team for many years under former Head Coach Alan Koch, who left to join the Whitecaps organization.

“The transition was pretty seamless, since I’ve been involved with the team for as long as I have.” said Schneider. “They know me, I know them, so it was just establishing the type of culture that I wanted, which was not too far removed from what the guys are used to, and then implementing it. That was the biggest change: implementing my culture and me being the big guy in charge, making sure the buck stops with me.”

The Clan was without star striker Jovan Blagojevic this year, who was drafted by the Vancouver Whitecaps and then sent to their reserve team. He led the team with 18 goals last season, and his absence was definitely felt this year, as the team scored only 29 goals this season compared to 41 last time around.

Defensively, however, SFU flourished under coach Schneider’s system. The Clan let in  nine fewer goals than in 2014, and they turned Terry Fox Field into a fortress, conceding zero goals at home all year long. Coach Schneider attributed this to a concentrated team effort.

“The guys were going to do everything it took to not allow a goal. We have a very good goalkeeper, but it starts with the guys up top and it works itself back. . . When you have a group of players who are brought into doing that and working hard for each other, well then, the proof is in the pudding,” Schneider quipped.

Leaving the team this year are Shane Satar, Callum Whittaker, and Alex Rowley, three key cogs for the Clan. Coach Clint was incredibly pleased with their contributions for the team — not only on the pitch, but off of it as well.

“Off the field, all three of those guys are fantastic team guys. They care about the culture we created [and] they care about the young guys that are going to be the legacy when their gone. So they really spent time and built into those guys who established what it means to play for SFU, what it means to play for Canada in a lot of ways, so that part will be badly missed.”

Reflecting on the year as a whole, coach Schneider said he would give the season a C+ rating. “The only reason I would rate it that low,” he said, “is because we didn’t make the postseason [. . .] I would still say it’s a pass, for sure, and there was a lot of positivity with this group that we can carry on towards next year. We have the real ability for it to be special.”